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MIT and Mastercard Foundation Launch 2018 Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion
March 13, 2018 | 0 Comments
Applications Open to Find Africa’s Most Innovative Start-ups Meeting the Greatest Financial Inclusion Challenges

CAMBRIDGE, United States, March 12, 2018 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation, today announced the launch of the 2018 edition of the Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion. The prestigious competition, awarding a total of $200,000 in prizes, was established to discover Africa’s most promising and innovative early-stage start-ups that promote and advance financial inclusion on the continent.

There are multiple awards and opportunities available for finalists. The grand prize winner will be awarded $100,000 and the two runners-up will each receive up to $30,000.The top 10 finalists are guaranteed to each receive up to $5,000 in cash prizes as well as VIP tickets to the Zambezi Award ceremony, cohort-building activities, international media exposure, and personalized introductions to the MIT Legatum network of investors and mentors. Past Zambezi finalists have led projects ranging from agricultural finance for the small dairy farmer to an employee-centric boda boda taxi business model.

The top three winners will also be invited to attend the Zambezi boot camp during the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC) gala on the MIT campus in Boston and fast-tracked to the global grand prize with up to $1 million available. The IIC event is part of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and, along with the MIT Legatum Center’s initiatives, examples of MIT’s global commitment to the future of work.

Munyutu Waigi, Co-Founder and Chief Customer Officer of Umati Capital receives the 2015 Zambezi Prize

Munyutu Waigi, Co-Founder and Chief Customer Officer of Umati Capital receives the 2015 Zambezi Prize

This year’s competition will be supported by the MIT Legatum Center’s annual Open Mic Africa tour, a cross-continent tour in search of Africa’s most innovative entrepreneurs that will debut in Spring 2018. The Legatum Center, with support from Techpreneur Africa and the late Bolaji Finnih, hosted the premiere event of the 2017 Open Mic Africa tour in Lagos, Nigeria.

The Zambezi Prize and the Open Mic Africa tour are pillars of the Legatum Center’s Africa Strategy – a global vision to leverage MIT’s ecosystem to improve lives through principled entrepreneurial leadership. The Legatum Center’s Africa strategy is also a core component of MIT-Africa – the initiative that encompasses the Institute’s global priority for collaboration with the continent.

The Zambezi application is now open for early-stage African tech start-ups who are furthering financial inclusion in Africa. Applicants will be judged on their ability to solve one of the financial inclusion challenges put forth by the Prize; their current and potential impact on the local ecosystem; the scale of their innovation; and the feasibility of the solution.

The Zambezi application closes in June, 2018. Potential applicants can find more information and apply at http://www.zambezi.mit.edu/ or contact the MIT Legatum Center at info@zambezi.mit.edu.

About Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT

The Legatum Center was founded on the belief that entrepreneurs and their market-driven solutions are critical to tackling the world’s greatest challenges and driving global prosperity. Based at MIT Sloan School of Management, the Center leverages expertise and research across campus to equip future leaders with the skills, values, and critical thinking they need to succeed as entrepreneurial change agents. The Center’s capstone initiative is the Legatum Fellowship Program which provides aspiring entrepreneurs with a world-class education and substantial tuition support.  The Legatum Center also conducts a set of global activities to strengthen pathways between MIT and leaders of change in frontier markets. 

The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest, private foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by Mastercard when the Foundation was created in 2006.

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Capital injection into infrastructure development projects decreasing in Africa-AIIM’s Roman Py
March 13, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L & Prince Kuripati

Roman Py says that countries that want to grow and rise in the near future need to be able to attract value and create capital as it is the only way forward

Roman Py says that countries that want to grow and rise in the near future need to be able to attract value and create capital as it is the only way forward

On the sidelines of the recent Power Africa Summit in Washington,DC,PAV caught up with  recently caught up with Roman Py, Head of Transactions with the  African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM),to discuss infrastructure development in Africa .

Introducing  AIIM, Romain Py said it was  a private equity firm whose interests is in investing capital into development projects mainly targeting infrastructure development. AIIM’s main target areas include telecoms infrastructure, mainstream energy, transport and power i.e. both thermal and renewable.

AIIM was formed 18 years ago and has subsequently grown in leaps and bounds ever since ,Romain Py said. To date AIIM has managed assets worth over 2 billion dollars and is currently managing other million dollar assets and operations in 15 countries mostly in West Africa.

Explaining how they take on projects, My Roman Py stated that AIIM has a two-fold criteria it uses in selecting which projects to pursue and which projects not to pursue. The first criteria AIIM employs covers the country as a whole, AIIM looks at the prevailing socio-economic-political environment to determine the suitability of running projects in a country. As is the case with any other investment, Mr Roman Py said that AIIM assesses whether it’s feasible to invest in a country considering the current investment climate. If the environment is unstable owing to political disturbances and the likes, AIIM takes the decision not to invest in that particular country. The same also applies to the economic aspect, if the economy of the country is fragile, then it’s unfavourable for AIIM to invest in that country.

The second aspect pertains to sector specific investment climate. Mr Roman Py stated that on occasions, the overall socio-economic-political environment maybe stable but when one looks closely, it’s possible to see that in one area for instance energy, the legal framework covering that area maybe vague and ambiguous while the legal framework for investing in telecoms infrastructure maybe clear and favourable for investment. In this instance, AIIM will then make a decision on investing in the one area that is investor friendly and disengage from the other unfavourable investment sectors.

During its 18 years in existence, AIIM has had some big successes according to Mr Roman Py. While AIIM’s operations have seen the company working in various countries around the continent, it is in West Africa that AIIM has managed to record massive success. Mr Roman Py says AIIM’s first big success story came in 2014 when the firm managed to finish a 240 megawatt Independent Power Producer (IPP) plant in Ghana. This was soon followed by a 450 megawatt gas fired plant a year later in Nigeria. In 2017, AIIM also finished another 90 megawatt IPP power plant in Mali, the first of its kind in the country. In the same year, AIIM also won a bid for another IPP power plant in Ghana. AIIM has other IPP power plants still in progress in Kenya and in Cote d’ voire.

As is the norm when running a business, AIIM encounters operational challenges in its line of business. Though there are quite a number of challenges, Mr Roman Py stated that their two biggest challenges include the ever-changing socio-political environment in African countries and power shortages. He said that while AIIM diligently assesses each country before starting projects, there are cases where the environment quickly changes from stable to unstable owing to unforeseen circumstances. Also, AIIM encounters power challenges as most African countries have unreliable power supplies which makes it difficult for AIIM to operate as most its projects require high amounts of power.

Roman Py went on to state that the amount of capital being injected into infrastructure development projects has sharply decreased in recent years .He attributed this  to the investment climate which is slowly deteriorating.  Roman Py said that Africa saw massive capital injection in the last 10 years, but that has since stagnated in the past two years. To Roman Py, this is as a result of the failure by African governments in particular and also private entities to close projects. He said that there are many ‘ground-breaking’ ceremonies in Africa where Heads of State and Government launch major projects but abandon them soon afterwards leaving a trail of unfulfilled mega-deals.

This problem can be rectified however as Roman Py said African countries need to move away from signing too many deals that ultimately fail, but rather focus on  projects that they can fulfill and close.  Roman Py said that “success breeds success” and as such once the first project succeeds, then it sets a good precedent for the next project to succeed in the end culminating in a permanent  circle of successful projects.

Roman Py also took time to comment on AIIM’s relationship with the Chinese. He said the relationship is more of a complementary relationship rather than a competitor relationship. This he explained saying Chinese come to Africa as contractors aiding government development projects and operate as contractors when on the ground. However, AIIM doesn’t operate as a contractor as it mostly conducts its business and operations separate from the government, it is more of a private entity.

Roman Py said that countries that want to grow and rise in the near future need to be able to attract value and create capital as it is the only way forward,citing Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Senegal as encouraging examples.

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DR Congo opposition rally behind exiled leader Katumbi
March 10, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Susan NJANJI*

DR Congo's prominent opposition politician Moise Katumbi claims to have unrivalled popularity (AFP Photo/Thomas SAMSON)

DR Congo’s prominent opposition politician Moise Katumbi claims to have unrivalled popularity (AFP Photo/Thomas SAMSON)

Johannesburg (AFP) – Democratic Republic of Congo opposition groups rallied behind exiled figure Moise Katumbi at talks in South Africa on Saturday aimed at forging a united front to fight elections due by the end of the year.

Exiled Katumbi led dozens of opposition leaders at the three-day meeting in Johannesburg to map out a strategy for the planned December 23 election to replace President Joseph Kabila.

“What brings us here is the rejection of the dictatorship that has taken root in our beautiful country and the desire to build a better world for our compatriots,” Katumbi said in opening remarks to over 100 participants.

“Together we will help build the alternative for the future and show the Congolese people that they are not alone,” said Katumbi.

He said conditions for credible, fair and honest elections “are far from being fulfilled”.

The election was originally scheduled for late 2016, but was repeatedly delayed, leading to unrest in the vast mineral-rich country.

Western powers have accepted the delay with reluctance, hoping it will avoid bloodshed.

Politicians at the Johannesburg meeting suggested the majority of the opposition groupings were behind the influential former governor of mineral-rich Katanga province.

“We are confident. We are the biggest movement that the DRCongo will have, we have a strong candidate, and if we have free and fair elections it will be possible to win this election,” Delly Sesanga, one of the opposition leaders, told AFP.

Katumbi, a wealthy businessman and former governor of Katanga province who is president of the major football club TP Mazembe, claims to have unrivalled popularity across the country.

The meeting is being held outside the DR Congo because Katumbi is in de-facto exile in Brussels, after being condemned in absentia in a real estate affair. He has said he will return to the DRC in December.

The elections in the troubled central African country are expected to pave the way to a historic transfer of power.

But Kabila, who took over from his father Laurent after he was assassinated in 2001, has not yet clearly stated whether he will step aside.

Kabila was due to stand down from office in December 2016, ending his second elected term.

But he has controversially stayed on under laws enabling him to retain power until his successor is elected.

Anti-government protests have turned deadly over the past months, raising international concern that the country could slide into all-out violence as it heads to the elections.

The violence has pitted Kinshasa authorities against the Catholic church, which has backed the demonstrations that have denounced Kabila’s government as corrupt.

 *Source AFP
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Ex-Fifa chief Blatter expresses support for Morocco World Cup bid
March 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
Former Fifa president Sepp Blatter says his 'heart still beats for Africa'

Former Fifa president Sepp Blatter says his ‘heart still beats for Africa’

Former Fifa president Sepp Blatter believes Morocco should stage the 2026 World Cup because of the logistical challenges thrown up by the joint bid from Canada/Mexico/United States.

Blatter told reporters this week that joint bids are a “nightmare”.

“If Morocco is able to organise this World Cup with 48 teams, then it must be chosen,” said 82-year-old Blatter.

“After the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, we (concluded) that co-organisation was a nightmare,” he said.

“We decided that as long as we had a single nomination, it would be privileged.”

There has never been a co-hosted World Cup since, with Germany, South Africa and Brazil all staging by themselves in 2006, 2010 and 2014 respectively.

Under the proposed plans of the triple bid, the United States would host 60 of the 80 matches, with Canada and Mexico hosting 10 games each.

The United States will stage all knock-out games from the quarter-finals onwards.

Morocco, meanwhile, is set to emphasise its compact nature and small travelling distances when it hands over its formal bid book later this month.

Both Morocco and the United States/Canada/Mexico must submit their 2026 World Cup bid books by 16 March.

The 2026 finals will be the first to feature 48 teams, 16 more than the tally that will contest both this year’s tournament in Russia and the 2022 event in Qatar.

The North African nation is making a fifth bid to host the World Cup, having failed to land the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 editions.

Since none of the bidding nations are eligible to vote, Morocco will need to win 104 votes when the decision on who will host the 2026 finals is made in Russia on 13 June.

Earlier this week, the joint Canada-Mexico-US bid announced a reshuffle of its leadership, emphasising diversity as its leaders seek to attract voters.

The leaders of the US, Canada and Mexico federations will now serve as co-chairs of the bid, replacing former United States Soccer Federation chief Sunil Gulati, who steps down.

United 2026 said the changes reflect the “unity” at the highest levels of the joint bid, while some have seen the change in leadership as a strategic move to shift the perception of the bid as being a largely American-driven enterprise.

Blatter, who led Fifa for 17 years before being barred for ethics violations (that he is contesting) in 2015, was a central figure in organising the rotation system that eventually took the World Cup to Africa for the first time in 2010.

His extensive reign was ended when he was barred for ethics violations amid the biggest corruption scandal that world football’s governing body had ever seen.

The Swiss still hopes that Fifa’s ethics committee will reconsider his case and lift his six-year ban from the sport.

 *BBC
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Mauritius President Gurib-Fakim to resign over financial scandal
March 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
Ameenah Gurib-Fakim became Mauritius's first elected female President in 2015

Ameenah Gurib-Fakim became Mauritius’s first elected female President in 2015

Mauritian President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Africa’s only female head of state, is to quit over a financial row.

She has been accused of using a bank card provided by a charity to make personal purchases worth tens of thousands of dollars.

She is to step down after ceremonies to mark the 50th anniversary of the island’s independence next week.

Denying wrongdoing, she said she had refunded all the money, Reuters news agency reports.

Ms Gurib-Fakim is a renowned scientist and in 2015 became the first woman to be appointed to the ceremonial position of president of Mauritius.

“The president of the republic told me that she would resign from office and we agreed on the date of her departure,” Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth told reporters without giving the chosen date.

“The interest of the country comes first, and I am proud of Mauritius’s image as a model of living democracy in the world.”

He added it would take place before parliament returned at the end of the month.

The Mauritian daily L’Express published bank documents purporting to show Ms Gurib-Fakim had used a credit card given to her by the Planet Earth Institute (PEI) in London to buy thousands of dollars worth of clothes, jewellery and other personal items.

According to the paper, the card was given to her as part of her work as an unpaid director for the charity.

One of the organisation’s directors is Angolan businessman Alvaro Sobrinho who, the paper says, secured a permit to found an investment bank in Mauritius, prompting allegations of favouritism.

The BBC has approached the PEI for comment.

*BBC

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How to build Wakanda: Lessons for African leaders from ‘Black Panther’
March 10, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Taa Wongbe*

The king of Wakanda Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong'o.

The king of Wakanda Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong’o.

As “Black Panther” nears a billion in box office worldwide, many Africans have flocked to theaters, sporting traditional African attires with pride to watch their brothers and sisters portrayed as superheroes, a narrative that has been lacking in popular culture.

With the World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects reporting that three of the ten fastest growing economies are in Africa, “Black Panther” provides a vision of what African countries could look like if some things are done right.
The movie is filled with many lessons that African leaders and government officials can take to promote sustainable economic growth, peace and prosperity to build their Wakanda. Here are five:
Empower and elevate women, and ensure you surround yourself with them.
There is no escaping the power of women in “Black Panther.” The newly crowned Prince T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, surrounds himself with powerful women, who he leaned on for guidance, wisdom and strength.
Africa has seen many women leaders — Winnie MandelaMiriam MakebaWangari Maathaiformer President Joyce BandaNgozi Okonjo Iweala and my own former President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf— who have played critical roles in shaping their countries’ destiny.
When women are empowered, they promote the well-being of society by championing health, education and peace. To build Wakanda, African leaders must put more women in positions of leadership.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education is key.
For me, Princess Shuri was the coolest and most inspiring character in the movie; no one could resist her intellect. She reinforced the power of STEM education. Because of the film’s success, Disney donated $1 Million for STEM education for young boys and girls in the US.
Education can change everything, and technology has the power to be the great equalizer. Because of this, African leaders should focus on STEM at an early age so Africa does not fall behind in the technology sector. Leading this charge for STEM education in Africa is Rwanda.
The country has a strategic plan to transform its economy by 2020 and STEM education is at the nexus. Investing in STEM education will not only confront the rampant unemployment challenges we have, but it will also address the gaps in human resources in Africa to build infrastructure, manage natural resources, and control diseases.
African leaders must take immediate steps to ensure STEM is included in national curricula.
Use natural resources to develop your country, and keep them in the people’s hands for today and tomorrow.
We have heard horror stories about the resource curse in Africa, but in Wakanda, Prince T’Challa and his late father fought to protect their natural resources. The Wakandans added value by developing technologies and did not export their resources hastily.
Few countries in Africa have avoided the curse, but one success story is Botswana, one of the world’s largest producersof diamonds. The nation has pursued economic diversification and has developed sound fiscal policies to regulate diamond wealth and government spending.
Botswana also invested diamond revenues for future generations using a sovereign wealth fund called the Pula Fund. Botswana is paving the way for their youth to become educated and empowered, and their society to prosper. Other nations must learn from this, it’s the Wakanda way.
Respect cultures and traditions while modernizing and allow them to coexist with the basic tenets of democracy.
Democracy is essential for every country to aspire for. But it comes in many forms — it is not a one size fits all system. In Wakanda, culture and traditions were important.
The Wakandans followed them while evolving their country. They did not simply accept a new form of government because it worked for other societies. Africa has seen charismatic leaders elected democratically and celebrated by the West only for those leaders to change the rules to fit them.
Democracy can be manipulated. We saw that recently in Rwanda, and in Uganda for years. Wakanda seems to embrace and exhibit some of the basic tenets of democracy while respecting their culture and tradition. For example, while there were no elections, certain citizens could challenge the king to win the throne.
This was their form of election and it was valued and respected. While we modernize and develop our society, we should remember the positive traditions and cultures that got us here and preserve them as we modernize. This is a firm lesson for African leaders.
Embrace the natural habitat of the land while developing and building up.
In Wakandan architecture, we saw red dirt and market places while alongside super railways and skyscrapers.
Many roads in Africa are built with asphalt which is highly expensive and difficult to procure. Wakandans built using the natural habitat, and fortunately, this is possible in Africa. For example, the Nubian Vault technique has been used since the ancient kingdom of Nubia, located in the Nile Valley in Egypt and Sudan. Environmentalists laud this as environmentally friendly and sustainable, and can help mitigate the effects of climate change.
African leaders must support architectural innovation with their natural habitat.
“Black Panther” inspired me to imagine what Africa could be if our leaders take some bold and collective actions.
It also inspired me that we should all be a part of this Wakanda-like development journey by developing leaders, specifically in the public service, that will passionately serve their people, protect their natural resources, embrace innovation and preserve cultures and traditions that are worth preserving.
*Source CNN.Taa is a Liberian Entrepreneur, Advocate and Philanthropist and the founder and CEO of the Khana Group, a leading social impact research and consulting firm in Africa. Taa has consulted with McKinsey, Deloitte and other consulting firms and was recently awarded the Business Leadership Excellence Award and inducted into the African Leadership Magazine’s CEO Hall of Fame.
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South Sudan Media Authority Suspends UN Radio Station
March 10, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

FILE (VOA)- Radio Miraya host Lubna Lasu broadcasts the Betna Weekend Edition program in the southern Sudanese city of Juba, April 10, 2010.

FILE (VOA)- Radio Miraya host Lubna Lasu broadcasts the Betna Weekend Edition program in the southern Sudanese city of Juba, April 10, 2010.

Juba – South Sudan’s media authority has suspended the UN – run known as Radio Miraya and ordered its frequency to be switched off in the country, citing failure to comply with directives to register in accordance with the provision of the media regulatory body.

This was announced in the press conference on Friday by Media Authority, asked the National Communication Authority to withdraw the frequency 101FM assigned to the UN radio station for non-compliance with conditions set for acquiring licenses for operation in the country.

The media regulatory body established by the government said the popular radio station should stop broadcasting with effect from today (Friday, March 9, 2018).

The media regulator accuses the UN- backed radio of non-compliance and refusing to be regulated under the country’s media laws.

Mr. Elijah Alier, managing director of the South Sudan Media Authority told a news conference that the radio station operated by the United Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS has failed to obtain a valid operation license.

Alier further says Radio Miyira journalists will not be allowed to cover stories until the suspension is lifted.

He denies criticism that the suspension of the radio station amounts to media censorship.

“This is to inform the public and media houses that the media authority has suspended the operation for persistent non-compliance and refusal to be regulated under the media laws in the Republic of South Sudan,” letter reads in part seen by Panafricanism.

According to the Media Authority’s suspension letter, the decision was taken following notifications starting on June 2017, September, 2017, November 2017 and February 2018.The management of Radio Miraya, the letter alleges has failed to respond in what authorities equate to violation and non-compliance with the media authority orders.

The suspension also came after the Country’s Information Minister and Government Spokesperson, Michael Makuei Lueth, who then sanctioned by the UN, had been threatened to shut down the station, earlier saying he would not be afraid to close down the UN-owned radio station meant for peace building.

However, UNMISS spokesperson Francisca Mold says the management of Radio is till in talks with government and that UN – radio will continue to operate.

Since the conflict erupted in 2013, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the government lead by President Salva Kiir have not been good terms, government has several accused the UNMISS of supporting the country’s rebels lead by former first vice President Dr. Riek Machar.

According to a UN human rights report released last month, Press freedom in South Sudan has been affected by the ongoing conflict.

In July 2017, South Sudan’s authorities said blocked access to some websites such as Sudantribune,  Radio Tamazuj, Paanluel and others accusing them of “hostile” reporting.

In the aftermath of conflict, journalists in South Sudan were often complain of harassment and arbitrary detention by the security forces.

According to the Media Authority Act 2013, no one is allowed to provide broadcasting services in the country without valid license.

Moreover, the media body earlier this month, prevented a journalists who have not registered with them to cover a press conference held by the country’s Information Minister.

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Ugandan author wins $165k prize
March 9, 2018 | 0 Comments

The Manchester-based author who’s won a life-changing $165k book prize

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi moved to the UK from Uganda at the age of 34

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi moved to the UK from Uganda at the age of 34

A Manchester-based author whose debut novel was initially rejected by British publishers has won one of the world’s richest literary prizes.

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi – who’s from Uganda and moved to the UK 17 years ago – has won one of the Windham Campbell Prizes from Yale University in the US.

She will receive $165,000 (£119,000). “I haven’t been earning for a long, long time,” she says.

“I really put everything into writing. So for this to happen is unbelievable.”

The prize money is more than double the amount that the Booker Prize winner gets, and organisers say it’s the richest award dedicated to literature after the Nobel Prize.

Makumbi is one of eight writers to receive Windham Campbell Prizes this year spanning fiction, non-fiction, drama and poetry – and is the only winner to have published just one full-length work.

Two other British writers are also on the list, both for non-fiction – Sarah Bakewelland Olivia Laing.

‘Too African’

The prizes were created by writer Donald Windham and also carry the name of his partner Sandy M Campbell. They were first awarded in 2013 to “provide writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns”.

Makumbi said news of the award came out of the blue. “It’s American, and normally it’s people who have got so many books [behind them],” she said. “So I’m surprised how I was one of them.”

Makumbi’s debut novel Kintu was first published in Kenya four years ago after British publishers rejected it for being “too African”. It was finally released in the UK this January.

Cover of Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga MakumbiImage copyrightONEWORLD PUBLICATIONS

The author said British publishers and readers like to have something they can relate to – be it Western characters or familiar settings and storylines – if they’re reading about Africa.

But she describes Kintu as “proper, proper Africa”.

The book conjures myths and legends to tell the story of a Ugandan family who believe they have been cursed over 250 years.

“I had really locked Europe out,” Makumbi says. “But it was a little bit too much – the language, the way I wrote it – they [Brits] were not used to that kind of writing. But they are beginning now to open up I think.

“Readers are realising, OK, if I want to explore Africa I’d rather be told from an African point of view rather than being told things that I’m expected to want to know.”

‘It’s about getting a paycheque’

Makumbi was a high school teacher before moving to the UK to pursue her dream of a writing career. She began by studying creative writing in Manchester, then wrote Kintu while doing a PhD in Lancaster.

The Windham Campbell Prize will help spread the word about the book – but for Makumbi, for now at least, the prize money will be the thing that changes her life.

“I would like to say it’s more about getting to be known and whatever, but mainly it’s about getting a paycheque,” she admits.

“It’s mainly about [doing] ordinary things that other people do that have a job. I have a partner but he’s not earning much and I’ve not been really pulling my weight.

“I’ve just been taking and taking, and we are a working class family, so it’s huge. And then, of course, now I can go and do research in different countries for my next project.”

‘Shocked’ by British life

She didn’t have to travel far to research a short story collection that will come out next January. It’s title is Love Made in Manchester.

“I write the stories as a way of writing back to Ugandans, informing them what happens to us,” she says. “I’m telling them, ‘You want to come to Britain? Hang on a minute. First read my story.'”

So what impression will Ugandans get of Britain if they do?

“It’s not the world that they’ve been told it is. When you’re in Uganda, Britain is the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, The Savoy, The Ritz – because this is how Britain markets itself.

“You never see the working class. That is what takes you by surprise. It’s just shocking.

“You come here and see the working class and you’re like, I should have paid attention to Dickens!”

*Source  BBC

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Merck Foundation marks ‘International Women’s Day’ with the First Lady of Niger
March 9, 2018 | 0 Comments
Merck Foundation discusses their commitment to building healthcare capacity with the President of Niger
NIAMEY, Niger, March 8, 2018/ —

  • Merck Foundation, in partnership with the First Lady of Niger builds healthcare capacity in the country with special focus on Cancer, Diabetes and Infertility.
  • Merck Foundation appoints the first Lady of Niger, as an Ambassador of Merck More than a Mother.
  • Merck Foundation discusses their commitment to building healthcare capacity with the President of Niger.
Merck Foundation appointed the First Lady of Niger H.E. Mrs. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou as an Ambassador of 'Merck More Than a Mother'

Merck Foundation appointed the First Lady of Niger H.E. Mrs. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou as an Ambassador of ‘Merck More Than a Mother’

Merck (www.Merck.com) launched their Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com) in Niger in partnership with the First Lady of Niger and their Ministry of Health (www.NigerStateMoH.org). During the launch event Merck Foundation, a non-profit organization and a subsidiary of Merck KGaA Germany, marked ‘International women’s Day’ in Niger to empower infertile women through “Merck More Than a Mother” campaign.

During the event, Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E.Merck KG and the Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees emphasized, “We are very proud to launch our Merck Foundation in partnership with the First Lady of Niger and Ministry of Health to build healthcare capacity, improve access to Cancer and Diabetes care and to empower infertile women in the country.”

Dr. Rasha Kelej CEO of Merck Foundation explained, “We are very proud to appoint H.E. Mrs. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou, the First Lady of The Republic of Niger, as an ambassador of ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign, to work closely with Merck Foundation in defining interventions to break the stigma around childless women across the country. Through our partnership, we will transform the lives of those unprivileged women, women who suffered all their lives from the Infertility stigma.”

L-R) Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E.Merck KG and the Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees, Her Excellency, the First Lady of Niger, H.E. Mrs. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou and Dr. Rasha Kelej, the CEO of Merck Foundation

L-R) Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E.Merck KG and the Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees, Her Excellency, the First Lady of Niger, H.E. Mrs. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou and Dr. Rasha Kelej, the CEO of Merck Foundation

Her Excellency, the First Lady of Niger, H.E. Mrs. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou emphasized, “I truly value our partnership with Merck Foundation. I firmly believe that building professional capacity is a good strategy to help our government to improve access to healthcare in our country. I will also work closely with Merck foundation to break the stigma around infertility at all levels by raising awareness, training the skills of local experts and by supporting childless women in starting their small businesses.”

She added “Currently, we don’t have any oncologist or fertility specialists in Niger, we even do not have cancer care facility and fertility clinic in the country. Merck Foundation makes history in the Niger, through its ‘Merck Oncology Fellowship Program’ and ‘Merck More Than a Mother’. They will provide training to the first oncologists and fertility specialists for Niger.

L-R) Dr. Rasha Kelej, the CEO of Merck Foundation, Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E.Merck KG and the Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees discussed long-term commitment to healthcare capacity building with the President of Niger H.E. Mahamadou Issoufou

L-R) Dr. Rasha Kelej, the CEO of Merck Foundation, Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E.Merck KG and the Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees discussed long-term commitment to healthcare capacity building with the President of Niger H.E. Mahamadou Issoufou

“As per the information received from the Ministry of Health, for 22 Million population, Niger has only six oncologists, one hematologist, and 12 radiotherapists. This gap is of course not enough to give proper access to quality and equitable cancer care across the country. We hope we can significantly increase the number of oncologists in the next three years.” Rasha Kelej added.

Merck foundation is committed to providing one-year to two-years Oncology Fellowship Programs and Clinical Fertility Management Training to four candidates from Niger in 2018 and is determined to provide training to more candidates in the future.

Merck Foundation met the President of Niger H.E. Mahamadou Issoufou to discuss and underscore our long-term commitment to healthcare capacity building, and empowering women and youth in Niger through our impactful programs; Merck Cancer Access Program and Merck More Than a Mother in partnership with the First Lady of Niger H.E. Mrs. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou

Merck Foundation met the President of Niger H.E. Mahamadou Issoufou to discuss and underscore our long-term commitment to healthcare capacity building, and empowering women and youth in Niger through our impactful programs; Merck Cancer Access Program and Merck More Than a Mother in partnership with the First Lady of Niger H.E. Mrs. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou

Moreover, Merck Foundation is committed to contributing toward advancing Diabetes Care in Niger, by providing online Diabetes Management Diploma in the French language, for medical postgraduates in Niger and other Francophone African countries, so that they can learn more about diagnosis and treatment of diabetes. The course is accredited by ‘Royal College of General Practitioners’ in the UK.

About Merck Foundation in Niger:
Merck Foundation is going to provide the oncology and clinical fertility training to the following healthcare professionals from Niger:

Oncology
1.    Dr. Mamadou Oumarou Ramatou- Adult medical oncology
2.    Dr. Mahamadou Aichatou- Paediatric Oncology
3.    Dr. Alhousseini Alhassane Laila- Radiation oncology
4.    Dr. Moussa Soffo Issa- Radiation technician

Clinical Fertility Management Training
1.    Dr. Abdoulaye Maiga
2.    Dr. Barkire Fatoumatou
3.    Dr. Lawali Chekarao Mamadou.

So far, candidates from Uganda, Zambia, Ethiopia, Namibia, Tanzania, Ghana, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Botswana, Liberia, Rwanda, Kenya, Chad, Niger, Guinea, Gambia, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Nepal have benefitted from Merck Foundation’s training programs in fertility or oncology fellowships. Merck Foundation aims to expand to more African and Asian countries soon.

(L-R) Hon. Dr. Idi Illiassou Mainassara, Minister of Public Health for Niger, Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E.Merck KG and the Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees and Dr. Rasha Kelej, the CEO of Merck Foundation discussing Merck Foundation's long-term commitment to building healthcare capacity in Niger

(L-R) Hon. Dr. Idi Illiassou Mainassara, Minister of Public Health for Niger, Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E.Merck KG and the Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees and Dr. Rasha Kelej, the CEO of Merck Foundation discussing Merck Foundation’s long-term commitment to building healthcare capacity in Niger

The Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), established in 2017, is a philanthropic organization that aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to innovative healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website. Please go to www.Merck-Foundation.com to read more and/or register online to interact and exchange experience with our registered members.
Merck Foundation is a subsidiary of Merck KGaA Germany

About Merck
Merck (www.Merck.com) is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 50,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2016, Merck generated sales of € 15.0 billion in 66 countries.
Founded in 1668, Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma and EMD Performance Materials

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African Women Take the Lead to End Female Genital Mutilation (FGM/C) & Early Child Marriage (ECM) in Africa through the Strategic Launch of the Big Sister Movement
March 9, 2018 | 0 Comments
In Africa 6000 girls are mutilated everyday, 200 million women live with the effects of FGM/C, and 30 million girls are still at risk over the next decades
DAKAR, Senegal, March 8, 2018/ — African women take the lead to end female genital mutilation and early child marriage in Africa through the strategic launch of THE BIG SISTER MOVEMENT.

The BIG SISTER MOVEMENT (BSM) is the largest grassroots coalition of Local NGOs led by women survivors of FGM/C’s from The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Kenya and Somalia with the aim of giving back the testimonies and scope of actions to survivors, to enable them to tell their own stories, advocate and find grassroots solutions to the issue of FGM/C in Africa.

“For too long, international organizations have been leading the campaign in Africa, implementing programs together with local activists in our communities. The time has come for Africans across the Continent and the world to be at the forefront of the campaign to end female genital mutilation and early child marriage in Africa by 2030”, according to Jaha Dukureh, a Founding Coalition Member & 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

“African women tend to be perceived as women who need to be saved. They are never considered as the actual saviours.This is what the Big Sister Movement is about. This is the reason for us choosing the International Women’s day to launch our movement, precisely to empower this vision”, added Augustine Abu, a BSM Coalition member.

In Africa 6000 girls are mutilated everyday, 200 million women live with the effects of FGM/C, and 30 million girls are still at risk over the next decades.

The Big Sister Movement is connected by the common goal to ban FGM/C in Africa and to ensure that the ban is implemented across all AU Member Countries where the practice is still dominant through the strategic training and empowerment of grassroots leaders and campaigner

Safe Hands for Girls (www.SafeHandsForGirls.com) was founded in 2015 by Jaha Dukureh to help bring an end to female genital mutilation (FGM) and other forms of gender-violence.

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Africa a world leader in women business owners: Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs
March 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

Index shows Ghana has the highest percentage of women business owners worldwide. Uganda is third overall.

 Africa – 8 March 2018 – Following the release of the Mastercard Index of Women’s Entrepreneurship (MIWE) today, it was revealed that 46.4 percent of businesses in Ghana are owned by women, making it one of the top performing African countries highlighted in the index.

The MIWE is a weighted index that helps to better understand and identify factors and conditions that are most conducive to closing the gender gap among business owners in any given economy. The three factors include Women’s Advancement Outcomes, Access to Knowledge and Financial Services, and Supporting Entrepreneurial Factors. The Index examined 57 different economies around the globe, including Botswana, Ethiopia, South Africa and Uganda; with Ghana, Nigeria and Malawi as new additions.

Nigeria and Ghana scored particularly well in terms of advancement outcomes: the women entrepreneurial activity rate was 100 percent, with overall scores in this regard coming in at 62.4 percent and 59.1 percent respectively. African countries also scored highly in women labour force participation – with Malawi at 100 percent, Ghana at 96.1 percent, and Ethiopia at 86.6 percent.

South Africa excelled in sharing knowledge assets with women and providing financial access, with a score of 84.3 percent– coming in 6th out of 57 countries. Botswana followed closely with a score of 73 percent.  Botswana and South Africa were the highest scoring African countries in the Index overall with scores of 66.5 percent and 64.2 percent respectively.

When compared to other African markets surveyed Botswana leads the charge with the highest rate of Supporting Entrepreneurial Conditions, at 68.1 percent, this is an increase of 2 percent from last year. Indicating that the country has positive Cultural Perceptions of Women Entrepreneurs and Quality of Governance. The continent scored highly in terms of women Financial Inclusion with South Africa at 98.7 percent, Ghana scoring 84.6 percent, and 77.1 percent in Ethiopia.

The Index results revealed that female entrepreneurs in developing countries are driven by grit and determination, along with a desire to provide for their families. The findings reinforce that women entrepreneurs are the backbone of economic growth and powerful engines of development and financial inclusion, especially in Africa.  The Index also showed an interesting contrast: women’s progress and advancement as entrepreneurs is not necessarily aligned to the pace of their own country’s economic growth and wealth. In fact, the highest rates of ownership are seen in developing economies where entrepreneurship is typically necessity-driven.

Women entrepreneurs in Africa and other developing markets have proven to be equally vibrant, resourceful and innovative in finding opportunities to improve their own lives as well as create a better future for their children.

“Botswana, Ghana and Uganda shine as examples of women’s determination to provide for themselves and their families and Africa excels at creating strong women entrepreneurs with the drive to succeed even in the face of financial, regulatory or technical constraints,” says Beatrice Cornacchia, Head of Marketing and Communications, Middle East and Africa, Mastercard.

An interesting outcome of the Index is that cultural perceptions of women entrepreneurs in Africa are predominantly positive – at 69.1 percent in Uganda and 67.2 percent in Nigeria, this is well above their Middle Eastern counterparts.

According to the Index, some women’s inclination towards business ownership may be undermined by limited access to education, financial and entrepreneurial opportunities. These are by no means only African – or developing – countries challenges, however. Women entrepreneurs even in developed nations face cultural and gender biases that restrict them from opening or expanding their own businesses.

These constraints are acting as barriers preventing women from starting businesses in the majority of the 57 countries surveyed. In New Zealand, the top ranked country overall for example, results revealed that society is less receptive towards female entrepreneurs because they are not perceived as having the same level of know-how as men. In Portugal, which ranked 6th on the Index with a score of 69.1 percent, women are not only constrained by a lack of cultural acceptance, but difficulties in getting bank loans, insurance, or trade finance. Even Botswana – which emerged as the top ranked African country on the Index at 14 with a score of 66.5 percent – has seen an increasing gender bias that acts as a barrier to women opening businesses.

This indicates that changes need to be implemented not just within society itself, but at economic, financial and political levels. “This requires collective action from public and private sector partners to implement initiatives that provide African women with the necessary education, training and mentorship to develop financial literacy to start and run successful and sustainable businesses,” Cornacchia concludes.

The full report is available here: https://newsroom.mastercard.com/mea/digital-press-kits/mastercard-index-of-women-entrepreneurs-2018

Methodology

The Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs tracks female entrepreneurs’ ability to capitalize on opportunities granted through various supporting conditions within their local environments and is the weighted sum of three components: 1) Women’s Advancement Outcomes (degree of bias against women as workforce participants, political and business leaders, as well as the financial strength and entrepreneurial inclination of women), 2) Knowledge Assets and Financial Assets (degree of access women have to basic financial services, advanced knowledge assets, and support for small and medium enterprises), and 3) Supporting Entrepreneurial Conditions (overall perceptions on the ease on conducting business locally, quality of local governance, women’s perception of safety levels and cultural perception of women’s household financial influence).

The Index uses 12 indicators and 25 sub-indicators to look at how 57 economies across Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, North America, Latin America and Europe, representing 78.6 percent of the world’s female labour force, differ in terms of the level of the three components.

Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs – Top 10 markets with the strongest supporting conditions and opportunities for women to thrive as entrepreneurs

  1. New Zealand – 74.2
  2. Sweden – 71.3
  3. Canada – 70.9
  4. United States – 70.8
  5. Singapore – 69.2
  6. Portugal – 69.1
  7. Australia – 68.9
  8. Belgium – 68.7
  9. Philippines – 68.0
  10. United Kingdom – 67.9

Women business owners as a percentage of all business owners – Top 10 markets

  1. Ghana – 46.4%
  2. Russia – 34.6%
  3. Uganda – 33.8%
  4. New Zealand – 33.0%
  5. Australia – 32.1%
  6. Vietnam – 31.3%
  7. Poland – 30.3%
  8. Spain – 29.4%
  9. Romania -28.9%
  10. Portugal – 28.7%

 

About Mastercard

Mastercard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry.  Our global payments processing network connects consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories.  Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.

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Ugandans claim Wakanda
March 8, 2018 | 0 Comments
Daniel Kaluuya in a kanzu

Daniel Kaluuya in a kanzu

Ugandans, who have two actors featured in Black Panther – Daniel Kaluuya and Florence Kasumba – have been busy showing why the African country Wakanda is actually Uganda, since the movie premiered on the continent two weeks ago.

With some scenes from the movie shot on location from Mountain Rwenzori and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest national park, in southwest Uganda, who can blame them for staking their claim?

Ugandans are also not taking the rhyming of Wakanda with Uganda for granted, nor have they glossed over the fact that Kaluuya’s character in the movie is called W’kabi, (read, Wakabi).

And the British-born actor himself put a Ugandan seal on the movie when he turned up for the world premiere of the box office record-breaking movie dressed in a traditional kanzu. Some have already taken to social media, wooing the world to come vacation in Uganda and see more of Wakanda.

Africans just cannot get enough of the first Marvel superhero movie with a predominantly black cast. In Ugandan cinemas, tickets are still selling out like hot cake, as even those who have watched it claim to return for second screenings of the movie that casts Africa and Pan-Africanism in positive light.

Hollywood movies set in Africa often depict the continent as a war-torn environment filled with poverty and suffering. Black Panther has received rave reviews from critics and cinemagoers that have flocked its premieres in Uganda, Nigeria and South Africa, among others.

Some of the cast flew to South Africa for the premiere, with Kenyan-born actress Lupita Nyong’o, tweeting “the excitement is spellbinding”.

In Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, film fans, Nollywood stars and comedians were dressed in traditional robes and gowns, with some opting to wear specially-made attire in keeping with the film’s futuristic take on African garments. Kaluuya had set the fashion pace at the world premiere with his kanzu worn with a maroon velvet jacket.

“Black Panther is a film that celebrates black excellence…it is especially exciting,” said Bolaji Kekere-Ekun, a 33-year-old filmmaker. “The people who made the film were very specific about the references they used in relationship to Africa. They are pulling from the best fashion and art.”

Wakanda

Black Panther is set in the fictional African nation of Wakanda. It tells the story of the new king, T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), who is challenged by rival factions.

“We put our heart and soul into it because we knew it was a great opportunity,” Boseman, 41, said during a Twitter Q&A. “But to see how people have responded to it, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s crazy.”

The fictional African country is depicted as a verdant land with stunning waterfalls where spacecraft designed like tribal masks soar over a modern metropolis.

Directed by black director Ryan Coogler and featuring actors including Michael B. Jordan, Angela Bassett, Nyong’o and Forest Whittaker, the film has received widespread critical acclaim after years of criticism about the under-representation of black people in Hollywood.

Black Panther scored the largest box office debuts ever in West Africa and East Africa, generating about $400,000 and $300,000, respectively.

Big-screen company Imax Corp said its theaters in Kenya and Nigeria had their biggest results ever with Black Panther.

With more than five million posts, Black Panther is also the most tweeted-about movie of 2018 – ahead even of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Various analysts said they expect Black Panther to do for ethnic diversity what last Warner Bros smash hit Wonder Woman did for women – which was to persuade film executives that blockbuster movies don’t need white male leads to sell tickets.

The film’s release comes less than two months after US president Donald Trump was quoted calling African countries “shitholes”.

*The Observer

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